Posts

A standout garden on the recent Tahoe Park Garden Tour

Image
The Tahoe Park neighborhood in Sacramento recently held their 4th annual garden tour. My wife and I visited about half of the 11 participating gardens. My favorite overall was my friend Kyle’s garden – you’ve seen me post about it repeatedly. Another standout was the home of a local artist. The moment I saw the gate in the front yard, I knew that this was no ordinary space: Usually, gates are utilitarian at best and rarely elicit wows. But this one did. Just look at the details in the gate and the fence: It turns out the homeowner, Debra, designed the gate and fence herself. The fence around our front yard looks utterly pedestrian in comparison – because it is. Who says driveways and garages are for cars? Debra clearly doesn’t. She has transformed her driveway into an outdoor lounge space: Walking into the backyard proper, one of the first things I noticed was the art on the walls. Every square inch of wall space is occupied with pieces Debra made out of recycled and repurposed mater

Backlit is beautiful

Image
While I’d like to think that our garden looks OK throughout the day, it shines in the early morning and late afternoon. That’s when the sun is low enough to backlight plants to great effect, often making them appear like they’re glowing from within. Backlighting and side lighting are the easiest way to create photographs that stand out. Here are some recent examples from our garden: A perfect example of backlighting: ‘Winecraft Black’ smokebush, ‘Harmony’ kangaroo paws, and ‘Louis Edmunds’ manzanita View from the front porch Self-sown dogweed ( Thymophylla pentachaeta ) Self-sown Mexican tulip poppies ( Hunnemannia fumariifolia ). They’ve popped up in different spots over the years, and I let them do their thing wherever they feel like it. Encephalartos friderici-guilielmi , a cycad from South Africa, with a new flush of leaves – the first flush in two years. These cycads are sloooooow, but so beautiful.  Silver torch ( Cleistocactus strausii ) is a perfect example of why cacti are so

2024 San Francisco Succulent Expo, June 14-16

Image
What are you doing on June 14–16? If you’re in the Bay Area that weekend, make plans to visit the 2024 San Francisco Succulent Expo. This event at the San Francisco County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park celebrates the 40th anniversary of the San Francisco Succulent & Cactus Society (SFSCS) . It’s a rebranding of the club’s traditional June Show & Sale. The new name is meant to evoke the great World’s Fairs held in San Francisco in the past, like the Panama–Pacific International Exposition in 1915 and the Golden Gate International Exposition in 1939–1940. The 2024 San Francisco Succulent Expo, which is free and open to the public, promises to be bigger and better than any previous SFSCS Show & Sale. Exceptional specimens of succulents and cacti will be on display in the “Nicely Grown!” show. Notable experts like Walker Young, Steven Hammer, and Kelly Griffin will give hands-on demonstrations and presentations. And of course there will be vendors selling plants and potter

Taft Gardens: one of California's best kept secrets

Image
Most people have heard of Huntington or Lotusland. Ask them about Taft Gardens though, and the response may well be “huh?” Taft Gardens & Nature Preserve is home to impressive gardens with plants from South Africa and Australia. It’s definitely under the radar, and part of it is by design – or necessity. Located at the end of a gated private road in the middle of nowhere outside of Ojai, California, Taft Gardens is subject to a strict conditional use permit and as a result limits the number of daily visitors to about 25. When you make your reservations (required, $20 per person), you receive detailed driving directions and the gate code for that particular day. Without it, you won’t be able to get in. Currently, two 2-hour time slots are available for visits: 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The 45-minute drive from Santa Barbara takes you by Lake Casitas, a reservoir completed in 1959 Private road leading to Taft Gardens – it really is as steep as it looks in parts The 2½ mile drive from the